Senator Reverend Warnock Introduces New Legislation to Protect, Bolster Federal Funding for Georgia’s National Heritage Areas

Senator Reverend Warnock’s new legislation will extend authorization of Georgia’s National Heritage Areas (NHAs) for 15 years and remove the cap on federal funding for historical and culturally significant lands

Georgia is home to three NHAs: Augusta Canal Heritage Area, Arabia Mountain Heritage Area, and Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

In December of 2021, Senator Warnock voted for government funding legislation to extend authorization of Georgia’s NHAs until February 18th, 2022, new legislation paves way for strengthened, long-term funding from federal government

Senator Reverend Warnock: “Georgia’s National Heritage Areas are critical to preserving our state’s rich history, protecting our wildlife, and encouraging local economic opportunity in the communities they serve […] I’m committed to my work in ensuring these communities are fully supported in the years ahead”

Legislation is proudly supported by Georgia’s National Heritage advocacy organizations: Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, and Augusta Canal National Heritage Area

Washington, D.C. –  Today, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) is leading the effort to protect, preserve, and support Georgia’s National Heritage Areas (NHAs) by introducing new legislation to provide certainty for their future. Authorizations for Georgia’s three National Heritage Areas—Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, and Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor—are set to expire next week on February 18th.  Senator Warnock’s new legislation would reauthorize expiring NHAs in Georgia for 15 years, and remove the cap on total federal funding the NHAs can receive over their authorization period.

“Our communities thrive and are more connected when we have a shared understanding of our history and access to our environment,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “Georgia’s National Heritage Areas are critical to preserving our state’s rich history, protecting our wildlife, and encouraging local economic opportunity in the communities they serve. I am a voice in the U.S. Senate for Georgia’s historic areas and the people who inhabit them, and I’m committed to ensuring these communities and are fully supported in the years ahead.”

Along with providing long-term authorization and removing federal limits for funding for each NHA, Senator Warnock’s new legislation, crafted with stakeholder input in mind, would amend the boundary of the Arabia Mountain NHA to include the Flat Rock Archives, one of the oldest African American settlements in Georgia. The legislation also includes a provision to support the Gullah Geechee community, including eliminating specific meeting requirements and changing official federal references of “Gullah/Geechee” to “Gullah Geechee” as supported by Gullah Geechee representatives.

In the Senate, Senator Warnock continues to prioritize preserving and supporting Georgia’s wildlife and historic lands. In December of 2021, he voted for government funding legislation that included an extension of authorizations for all expiring NHAs, including Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, and the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor until February 18, 2022. Senator Warnock’s new legislation will take this effort further by paving the path for long-term financial support and security for Georgia’s NHAs.

“On behalf of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area I applaud Senator Warnock’s introduction of legislation to extend the authorization of the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area. By his action the Senator recognizes that without the extension of this authorization, projects will be halted, jobs lost and revenues will decline just as we are working to rebuild from the catastrophic economic collapse relating to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Executive Director of Augusta Canal National Heritage Area, Dayton Sherrouse.

“The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor and Commission have worked tirelessly to support the original vision for the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor National Heritage Area. Through on-the-ground programming and a strong online presence, the corridor team has worked to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money by providing educational and preservation programming that allows everyone to appreciate this undercelebrated of our American heritage that is in keeping with the goals of the National Park Service. Countless individuals and communities have benefited from this investment by Congress- not only because it preserves an incredible national asset but because of its cultural and economic impacts in the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. We are profoundly grateful to Senator Raphael Warnock and that our representatives recognize the mighty work being done on behalf of the people in our communities,” said Executive Director of Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, Victoria Smalls. 

“On behalf of the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance Board and staff, we are grateful for Senator Warnock’s support of this legislation. The Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area, like all National Heritage Areas, is a key part of the American story, with historic and natural resources found nowhere else on earth. The legislation proposed by Senator Warnock allows National Heritage Areas to achieve conservation, heritage tourism and economic stability in local communities,” saidExecutive Director of Arabia Mountain Heritage Alliance, Revonda Cosby.

To read the text of the legislation, click HERE.